What will the change in business rates mean to you?

Business rates bills will signal an expansion opportunity for some and possible job losses for others when they drop through the doors of property owners next month.

Adrian Smith, a specialist in rating issues for more than 40 years, says lower rateable values in some areas coupled with a doubling of the rate relief threshold amount to good news. But he warned that some businesses are facing an increase of 300 per cent, and he said some may be forced to shed jobs.

Adrian, who set up AS Rating in 2000 after spending 25 years working for the Inland Revenue, is bracing himself for a rush of enquiries when companies throughout the region receive their new rates demands during March. He said the demands are likely to prompt a wave of calls from winners and losers confused by the new rateable values which take effect on 1 April.

Adrian said: “Some business owners have been horrified because even with transitional relief the big increases can cause problems. They can even affect staffing levels – one employer I spoke to might have to lose a member of staff.”

The revaluation is the first since 2010 and is based on rental values from 1 April 2015. A key feature of the changes is that the threshold for small business rate relief will double to £12,000.

The draft rating list published in October 2016 showed that many businesses in Hull could expect to see their rates fall. But in some areas of the East Riding, business owners were facing an increase in rateable values of as much as 300 per cent, and throughout the region many businesses are still unaware of the possible implications.

Adrian said: “Only a minority of businesses have acted on the information so far. Others have not paid any attention to it or have been putting it off because they are busy or it’s not something they understand. It will come to their attention when they get their bill and I expect that’s when I’ll get a lot of calls.”

Adrian added that transitional relief ensures that any major changes are phased in, but he warned that increases will be applied more quickly than reductions. He also warned that businesses which fall under the new threshold should beware of approaches from unregistered consultants.

He said: “The threshold element of the changes is straightforward but there are still consultants who will try and get you to pay them for securing a reduction which you will get anyway.

“Other aspects of the changes are more complicated and I have had a lot of questions from businesses who have become aware of the draft figures and don’t know if they’re correct. They are seeking advice as to whether the figure is reasonable and what the procedures are for challenging it.

“The Valuation Office Agency will adopt a “check, challenge, appeal” process, and with around 300,000 outstanding rate appeals already in the system this will not happen overnight.”

(This article is courtesy of Bondholders)

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